News & Announcements
Passing By The Paczki
For those who don't know, a Paczki (pronounced punch-key) is a dense, deep-fried pastry filled with anything from cream cheese to raspberry jelly. According to a fellow grocery store patron, they are of polish origin and have something to do with the Catholics not being allowed to have too much lard in the house around Lent, o they used it all up to make these over-the-top jelly doughnuts. He said they are supposed to be eaten around a day called Fat Thursday. Eat enough of these things, I was thinking, and you're more than likely going to have a fat Friday and fat Saturday too.
I happen to know a certain clergyman who has a rather difficult time passing these by. The bakery section is directly across from the deli. En route to the deli he finds himself often drooling over the many varieties of these delights. This clergyman will sometimes heed the pleading of his sweet wife who whispers to him, "Just keep on walking dear, just keep on walking." He will keep on walking, but somehow find an excuse to swing back by the deli for one more look. He can only swing by so many times before a box ends up in his cart.
We can only "swing by" our temptations so many times before we give in. We tell ourselves that we're only "checking things out," that we're just looking." We wander too close. Things we shouldn't watch are justified with "just this one time." places we shouldn't go are OK in our minds because we're "just looking." We are with people we should not be around because we're "just helping them out."
Can't you just see that big grin on the devil when he sees all this rationalization. If I can just keep them close, he surely must be thinking, I'll get 'em. they can only smell it, touch it, ponder it so long, before eventually they pick it up and eat it. it worked with Eve. the longer he could keep her at the tree, the longer she conversed, the more he knew he had her. And have her, he did.
Even the Son himself refused to spend too much time with the Devil. Read the story of temptation (Matthew 4). He didn't argue, He didn't rationalize, He didn't justify -- He gave short, direct answers supported by God's Word. it's as if Jesus is saying, "I'm not going to make this temptation harder by standing around listening to what you have to say about it. Here's why I am not giving in to this, now let's move on to the next one!"
You can tell yourself that you're just passing by. Everything innocent...all is on the up and up, huh? Actually, what you are doing is just making it harder on yourself and easier on your adversary. The closer we stay to the bait, the greater the chance we bite!
Young At Heart
These last seven plus years we've had a loyal, core group meeting as what we called the Woodsfield Young At Heart. We've talked about everything in the Bible from what the ark smelled like to why Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law. We've covered the book of Acts, slowly but completely. We've told a few jokes and prayed regularly for those in need. We have no official song leader (I can't carry a tune, bucket or no bucket), but that doesn't deter us. We've had a lot of good food, been to every museum I think within a two hour's ride of Woodsfield and done a whole lot of shopping for things we probably could live without.
The bus has often been too hot, or too cold, and occasionally just right. We've only been broken down officially twice - both times helped by the kindness of strangers (having "Church Bus" printed on the van and the driver acting like he was mentally challenged may have helped). The driver has been told where to turn, how to turn, where to park, where not to park, how to park, how long to park, how fast to drive, how fast not to drive, how to turn the heat up, how to turn the heat down, and back up again - and how to wear his seat belt, but that's only when his wife goes along. We've had some great restaurant food and some that made us sick, but the laughter and Christian fellowship made it ALL good!
Speaking of food, thanks to our kitchen crew who has been so faithful and so helpful with each and every meeting. The sacrifice of your time is sure appreciated.
So...this is to thank you for your interest and participation in this ministry and to let you know that as long as I am around we will continue with the meetings and field trips. We'll just take it one month at a time.
Thursday, January 30th will be our field trip. The 20th annual journey to the metropolis of New Martinsville. A sign-up sheet is in the foyer - got room for 14.
All New! Member Interests Search
Members can login (http://woodsfieldchurchofchrist.org/members/login) and under "my account settings" can select categories you are interested in. Members can search to find other members who are interested in the same thing(s). This is perfect for finding outside-of-worship activities that will appeal to everyone.
You can try out the search here.
Church Building Progress in India
Check out the progress here: http://woodsfieldchurchofchrist.org/missionaries/progress-journal-new-church-building-in-india.
The family is encouraged to donate diapers for needy children of Monroe County. Children services have children come into their care late at night and they are not prepared to provide some children with the basic necessities. If you would like to donate some diapers, bring them to the office within the next two weeks.
"It Ain't Good To Just Sit"
So said the mechanic as we stood together under my hoisted truck. From a distance, sitting in a driveway, it appears to be a good vehicle. Paint is good. Tires are nearly new. Interior looks pristine. Only has 116, 000 miles on the motor. One would think it's a vehicle with substantial life left in it. This is until one gets an up close and personal look at its underside.
One would think that for a vehicle to just sit would not necessarily be a bad thing. Less wear and tear on it' s moveable parts. Less stress on the motor. However, unless it‘s parked inside, in a controlled environment, sitting is bad, very bad. The frame rusts and then rusts some more. Vital lines, links, and fittings rust and become inoperable. It looks like it has life, but it is nearly worthless.
Just so you know, it's not good for your faith to just sit. It must be active. lf you could live in a controlled environment, as it were, you may get away with it. If everyday you were surrounded by faithful Christians, Bibles in hand, constant praise on their lips, your faith might survive your spiritual inactivity. If all you saw and heard and experienced all day, every day was goodness and purity, you might make it just sitting. But that's an existence we will only know in Heaven. And then we won’t even need the faith to run. (see 1 Corinthians 13:13).
While we are out in the elements, out where so much sin surrounds us waiting to produce spiritual rust, our faith must be worked, it must be driven. James once said that "faith without works is dead." Our daily Bible study oils it. Prayer keeps the fuel to it. The Lord's Supper each Sunday is an opportunity to "check under the hood" and examine my faithfulness (Read 1 Corinthians 11:28).
You may look good and spiritual on the outside. You may look like you're workin' good. What do you look like underneath? Don’t let it just sit. Do something. Produce some fruit. The less you use it, the less you will use it. And eventually, left sitting too long, you'll rust up. Then what are you worth?
The HMS Friday
Those of us who get frustrated with the pharisaical attitudes toward church tradition admittedly at times go to the other extreme. We so want to free our brethren from manmade rules and regulations and religious superstitious that we find ourselves using the same irrational logic and irresponsible behavior that we have accused the traditionalists of using. We obsess over eliminating a traditions just for eliminating's sake. This can backfire. Consider the following true account:
During the mid 1800's, when the British Navy was at its most powerful, the powers-that-be decided to disprove the tradition that Friday was an unlucky day. They commissioned the building of a large ship named HMS Friday; They made sure that construction began on a Friday. It was assigned a captain whose last name was Friday. It was launched on a Friday. Neither the ship nor the crew were ever heard from again!
The church does need to be reminded from time to time of what Isaiah stated, and Jesus himself later quoted, "...their teachings are but rules taught by men." We need to encourage each other NOT to bind ideas and practices upon each other which cannot be supported by God’s Word.
We should not, however, obsess over doing things in a new way, a different way just for new way's sake, or just to prove who supposedly understands more about the Bible. Wanting change so that I might satisfy my own ego and pride is as sinful as wanting tradition to satisfy the same.
The Winter Solstice
As a child, of course the only December day I cared anything about was the 25th. What I have learned as I an adult, though, is that December 25 and everything that goes with it owes its prominence to December 21. Christmas, as you know, was ordained by early followers of Christ as the "Birthday of the Son." This was, in fact, to counteract the influence of the pagans who were celebrating the winter solstice as the "Birthday of the Sun."
Without advocating that we return to the pagan practice of sun worship, I must confess that I now anticipate the coming of the year' s shortest day as much as I once did the arrival of Santa Claus. I know that from this day forward, until June, they're only going to get longer, we're only going to see more sunshine. Lord willing, 6 PM will again feel like 6 PM instead of 11 PM. These short days and long, cold nights are for the birds. And even the birds don't like them. They have enough sense to pack up and go find the sun.
Christmas may remind me of where Jesus came to, but the winter solstice reminds me of where He is now, and where I so desperately hope to be.
God's servants will worship Him with Service. They will see God's face! His name will be written on their foreheads. There will be no night anymore. They will not need the light from a lamp or the light from the sun, because the Lord God will shine on them. They will rules as kings forever and ever. Revelation 22:3-5
No short days. No long, cold, dark nights. Just one continuously bright beautiful day! Hard to imagine. Won‘t it be grand!
The birth of Christ is a marvelous story and I'm thankful for the chance to know it, appreciate it, and preach it. I am more thankful for the life he grew up to live and the death he decided to die. That death and the conquering of that death is what brings the light into my life and shines the light on the life I hope to live eternally.
It was in a Vocational Education classroom in 1987 that I overheard an instructor discussing with another his upcoming 25th high school reunion. I remember turning to a classmate and whispering, "Man, I didn't know he was that old." Fast forward 25 years. The postcard I found in my mailbox inviting me to attend a reunion of the the class of 1987 has reminded me of how much my definition of "old" has changed over these years!
Initially, the invitation was headed to the trash, the same fate of my 10 year and 20 year reunion notices. I was not into the high school social scene. I had two close friendships, and outside of that, was not much interested in the happenings of anyone else's life, nor were they in mine. Most of my classmates and I had nothing to talk about then, and couldn't see how 25 years had changed that. However, the sudden death of one of those two friends caused me to rethink. Maybe I should accept that invitation alter all. So I inquired as to it's location as well as asking about the events of the previous reunion so as to get an idea of what this occasion might entail.
There was lots of beer at the last one, and would be even more at this one. So and so really got drunk and 'we're hoping he shows up this year.” So and so hooked up with so and so. The drinking went on long into the night and "this year would be even better." It was a juvenile description of a juvenile event enjoyed by a bunch of juveniles. I was reminded of the phrase, "Y0u‘re only young once, but you can be immature forever," and decided not to attend my 25th.
Sadly, the world is full of adults whose bodies are maturing and leaving their minds behind. They're still getting drunk on the same beer they drank in the 12th grade, still giggling at the same stupid jokes they told in the high school locker room, still making the same crude observations about all the girls they’re still chasing.
There‘s two lessons here:
First, we Christians are expected by our Father to live above the world and it's standards. We are, after all, the church, the "called out". Jesus told his followers, "...you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world (John 15: 19). Paul told the Romans not to be "conformed any longer to the pattern of this world" (Romans 12:2).
Secondly, as Christians, we are expected to grow up, to mature. We don't stay in kindergarten. Take a look at Ephesians 4: 12-13. Those who have been Christians for 25 years should know more and act better than those who are new Christians. Seasoned saints should have more seasoned speech, less petty complaints, more courage, and more determination to live the called-out life.
Funny...when folks don't mature physically we recognize that they must be sick. When they don't mature spiritually we dismissively say, "boys will be boys."
Paul once wrote, "...when I became a man I put away childish things..."
Let us do likewise.
Cleansed, But Still Intolerable
No one in their right mind would come within touching distance of the ten lepers. Their gruesome appearance and shouts of "Unclean! Unclean kept the most kindhearted, well-meaning souls at bay. What a loathsome existence they must have known —- eating, sleeping, and working void of any meaningful companionship, being avoided by even friends, family, and neighbors.
Then they found the Savior, or He found them. The purest love the world has ever known made them touchable. No longer must they shout warnings to oncomers warning of their disease. They were now clean! At least on the outside, that is.
Did they really become more tolerable? Were they really "safe" company? After all, we know that only one took the time to express his appreciation. Even Jesus seemed disappointed. Where were the other nine? And we know that thankless, ungrateful people are, quite frankly, miserable to be around. Ingratitude is in and of itself. It can be as contagious to another soul as leprosy is to another’s skin.
Be honest now, do you enjoy the company of those who are seldom appreciative and never satisfied? Neither do I. We avoid them as we would a leper. We tire of hearing how miserable life is for them, how no one, including God has ever done a thing for them. No one's sickness has ever been as bad as theirs. If it's summer, they want winter. If it's winter, they want summer. If twenty friends visit during their illness, they complain that it should have been twenty one. They should have to shout, as the lepers did, "Ungrateful! Ungrateful!". Thus we would have fair warning to stay beyond touching distance. Like the nine who refused to offer thanks, the skin appears healthy, but to God, the soul may smell like rotting flesh.
An attitude of thankfulness and contentment is essential to a healthy, saving relationship with God. As a matter of fact, the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:6-7) is given only to those who are thankful. Being thankful for God's blessings will bring you peace with God, peace with yourself; and peaceful relationships with your fellow man. The world and the church need more folks like the one thankful leper.